As I sit here writing this, I’m currently vibing to Vyacheslav Anatolevich Koristov’s powerful synthwave track ‘Grip and Life’ from the art of rally Original Soundtrack. In fact, it’s not just for this piece, I’ve been using it to help power me through a busy time at Traxion.GG – its mix of heavy adrenaline-fuelled bass and electronic energy helping clear away any distractions.
Which is exactly the same effect it has on me when playing art of rally, the music now blasting out, at last, a PS5.
Originally released on PC back in September 2020, Dune Casu’s – read Funselektor – tribute to the glory years of rallying instantly captured the imagination of our very own bobble-hat fan John Munro. Since then, he’s even held a world record time on one of the Japanese stages.
In August it launched on Xbox and Nintendo Switch, but today it’s the turn of the PlayStation 4 and 5.
An intoxicating combination of luscious environments, retro vehicles and a top-down camera creating a rose-tinted cocktail that I’m powerless to resist.
‘A love letter to rally’ is a bit of a cliché, and as it happens, undersells the game. It’s far more than that.
It’s the video game equivalent of proposing atop the Eiffel Tower. It’s emptying the dishwasher on a Friday evening. It’s standing in a Scandinavian forest up to your knees in snow for six hours to catch a brief glimpse at Ott Tänak. art of rally is dedication and attention to detail. As far as I’m concerned, creator Dune is a modern-day Michelangelo.
I may have over-egged it slightly there, but no other game has hashtags on the underside of each car so that if you roll over, there’s a cheeky clue as to what each of the unlicenced vehicles is meant to portray. Or, there’s the Trophy entitled ‘Perkele’, a Finnish swear word popularised by Tommi Mäkinen’s co-driver Seppo Harjanne when they crashed.
To nitpick, the career is simply one event after the next, there’s no skill tree or upgrade path nor branching level select options.
Somehow, that’s almost part of the charm, though. Like the eras the game strives to represent, some of the features are paired back – gameplay is the core competence and that’s the most important element anyway, as you control the power-oversteer of a MK II Ford Escort.
Not completely devoid of fripperies, you can free roam to collect items in each country and livery designs are unlocked by winning events without restarting, both of which I am drawn to.
This all translates wonderfully onto the PS5 with a native version. The conversion is carried out by DO Games and includes all content and features added to aor since the initial release, such as the recent Kenyan area. If I were to be critical, small environmental details seem to be drawn in as you approach and there are occasional performance hiccups where the game slows down momentarily – hopefully, small visual defects can be ironed out post-release.
The PS4 version also runs the brand-new machine very close but misses out on ultimate visual fidelity, in particular the shadows aren’t as smooth. There’s a clear gap between the two consoles, but it’s still just as playable and moreish on either device.
We’ve already covered this game many times on Traxion.GG. From our initial impressions, the online leaderboard time chasing, to the other console versions and even a rally history lesson releasing later today. But, it bears repeating – if you’ve ever enjoyed rallying in any form in a previous video game, art of rally is an essential purchase and one that deserves far more just sales success. I hope it gets more people interested in my favourite form of motorsport, too.